Friday, July 18, 2014


We've had this wooden box for years...a 60s merchandising piece for Philip Morris 100s filter cigarettes meant to hold cigarette cartons and carried by ambulant vendors. I don't know how it came to be in the family, but we did have Sarao jeepneys that went on the road with our trusty drivers--maybe this was left inadvertently by one of the cigarette boys. The cigarette boys catered to pedestrians, jeepney passengers and jeepney drivers, hence, the handiness of this box which featured a section for loose change.
Philip Morris Incorporated began in the Philippines around 1955, when it entered into its exclusive licensing agreement with Filipino-owned La Suerte Cigar and Cigarette Factory. Its filter-tipped cigarette became a Philippine favorite. Boxes like these are still made--but the ones I see are either for candies or are of the home-made type, with a covered section for coins that was often shut open-and-close, creating the distinctive attention-getting 'takatak' sound that gave cigarette boys their names--'takatak' boys!

Saturday, July 5, 2014


Now here's a pick that I didn't have to pick. It was a freebie from a second-hand dealer whom I have patronized for some time. I never get out of his shop empty-handed, so out of appreciation, he gifted me with this aluminum helmet, painted red and inscribed with "East Binondo", which I assumed was a fire brigade in that Chinatown district. There is a logo: OCR-PICAG AFP, which I found out after googling, stood for Office for Civil relations-Public Information Civic Action Group, a defunct group of the Armed Forces during the Martial Law years.
It's apparent that this helmet has seen better days--it's been repainted several times as seen from the paint layers--it must have been blue before it was red! Maybe this was not even a fireman's helmet before, perhaps a protective gear from the violent rallies that went before the infamous Sept. 21, 1972 date.
There are Chinese incriptions written in permanent marker,on the inside of the helmet. Maybe you can figure that out, as I can't read Chinese. In the meanwhile, I left this helmet hanging on a wall shelf--it's rather off when displayed together with my antique salakots. I may never have use for this, but it's nifty to think that I have a genuine 'occupational collectible" from the Martial Law period!!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

301. Switch It While You Work: SNOW WHITE CHALKWARE LAMP

Walt Disney took moviedom by storm when it screened it screened its first animated feature, "Snow White and the 7 Dwarfs"  in 1937. Based on the fairy tale character, Snow White became a worldwide sensation and it popularized such songs as "When You Wish Upon a Star", "Someday, my Prince Will Come" and "Whistle While You Work". Snow White was the first of the so-called Disney Princess and is the only animated figure that has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Immediately, licensed merchandise were made of the characters, especially the 7 Dwarfs--Grumpy, Happy, Doc, Bashful, Sneezy, Dopey and Sleepy. Snow White too, was immortalized in the form of dolls, gameboards, coloring books, figurines--and one of the earliest is this lamp base. La Mode Studios of New York was licensed to create these lamps made of painted plaster, in 1938. molded in the shape o Snow White. The drwafs too were cast as lamp bases, but the Snow White lamp--with a matching lampshade--remains a favorite. This particular lamp base however is very different from what La Mode created, so I assume this was from a different, unlicensed manufacturer, riding on the crest of the popularity of the cartoon. It bears no copyright date, but is incised with the Walt Disney name.
I found Snow White many years ago in Chatuchak market in Bangkok. Far from having a flawless fair complexion, she has a tan, almost like a morena Filipina. My Snow White came with a glass shade that does not really fit, which I believe to be a replacement. I am sure it can be rewired and restored (I actually repainted the scruffs on her body), and someday...her switch will come.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014


Now here's an ingenious battery-run mechanical toy I've had for years. It's one of my first tin toy actually, bought from a store in Binondo with many old stocks. It shows a charming little bear made from fluffy fabric with a book on its lap. When switched on, one paw--which has a hidden magnet--stamps a metal page of the book, and then flips it over--just like he is reading the book. The book pages have incredible details, showing story titles like "The City Mouse and the Country Mouse". There are no marks on this late 50s-early 60s toy, but it looks Japan-made. The fur fabric has started to fall-off and I am resigned to the fact that it will soon deteriorate--but I intend to keep this toy for awhile even in this state, at least for display. For where on else can still one see a bear that reads?

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

299. Classic Ghostbusters Find: STAY PUFT MARSHMALLOW MAN

One of the most sought after collectibe figure from the 1984 movie Ghostbusters,  is Mr. Stay Puft Marshmallow Man (doesn't he look like a close cousin of the Michelin Man?). I found this sealed toy by Kenner in an Angeles City shop back in 1995, which still had old stocks of Ghostbusters toys, many in boxes. So what do you expect? I bought them all, of course. But this one is my favorite--dating from 1987.

Mr. Stay Puft, in his trademark sailor suit, was the final enemy of the first Ghostbuster, the chosen Destructor Form of Gozer, when Ray let the idea of a company logo "just pop in there". Out of the package, he sells for about $45 in great condition, but I've seen mint examples in their original packaging go for $200 or more! So sorry for the bad photo, I'm not about to tear Mr. Stay Puft out of his plastic cocoon; I ain't afraid of no ghost, I'm afraid it will decrease in value!

Thursday, May 8, 2014


Miniatures are a big collecting field in the U.S.--there are dolls, furniture, figurines, decor of all sorts--all in Lilliputian size, available to collectors. This set of altar vessels are more unusual, in that they are seldom seen, and if made available, carry quite a hefty price tag.  Standing no more than 4 inches tall, the set includes a pair of cruets, ciborium, chalice and what seems to be a reliquary or a monstrance.
Made of cast metal plated in bronze, the sacred vessels date from the early 1900s and were made in France. Similar ones, of pewter or tin, were also manufactured in Germany. Though small, the vessels are highly detailed, with "repousse" designs on their bases. They were designed for use in home altar, for a priest's altar table or even for dollhouses.
Examples sold on ebay are indivudually priced anywhere from $20-$250 each, but I was lucky to stumble upon this 5-piece set, with a very low starting bid. At the end of the bidding period, I had them all for just under $60! Sing hallelujah to the Lord!

Wednesday, April 30, 2014


 An interesting bottled whimsey that gives a fresh spin to the usual "ship-in-a-bottle" folk art. This crucifixion bottle, an ebay pick, dates from the early 20th century, and is quite an elaborate creation, featuring almost all the symbols of Christ's passion, all carved and cut from pine.
 The focal point of the bottle is a large serrated cross, and each facet shows allegorical and symbolic carvings such as a ladder, an anchor, a heart, a cross, and miniature crosses.
 This side of the bottle shows a rooster (associated with Peter's denial of Christ), a lance, a hammer, and a whip.
Turn the bottle around and you will see a pair of crossed swords, a shovel and a spear. The cross itself is trimmed with 3 criss-crossed serrated bars. Crucifixon bottles, as these are called in Europe and the U.S. were favorite folk art crafts done by local artisans and ordinary people during their spare time. There are also crucifixion bottles from the Philippines which were believed to have been made by Bilibid prisoners as part of their rehabilitation program. Regardless, all these bottles were made by deft and steady hands, requiring patience and many hours of perseverance to complete such folksy, collectible bottled art.